Excited for Summer School

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On July 20th, 2015, KidsBridge opened its doors to over 150 excited Pre-K students for the 6th consecutive summer. There were a few tears, some laughter, and a lot of first-time experiences; many of our volunteers worked with  the students on the first day on walking in lines, proper bathroom etiquette, and how to get along. As the first lessons in letters and numbers began, students sat side-by-side with volunteers and learned about how to be great in the classroom. Over the past 6 years of the program, the data we’ve collected show that students improve by  up to 30% in reading, writing, and math with the help of their teachers and volunteers.

Although social and emotional skills  can be harder to quantify, they are the most impressive gains reported by school Principals. Last summer, at Carl Lauro Elementary school, two 4-year-old twins from Guatemala were dropped off for their very first day of school. Neither of them spoke English, and their Spanish dialect, “Quiche,” was too esoteric for our bilingual volunteers to fully understand. The two of them, brother and sister, sat on the carpet of their unfamiliar classroom, holding each other tightly and quietly crying.

One of our volunteer knelt down, put out her hands and said, “Come on, let’s go for a walk.” She lead them down the hallway of Lauro Elementary school, and that small kindness connected individuals separated by language, customs, and age. Both twins smiled back at the volunteer and then went back into the classroom; four weeks later, at KidsBridge Graduation with over 300 attendees, they were two of the happiest kids in the room. These two students entered KidBridge with non-existent score on both academic and social/emotional assessment. At the time of graduation these students had made an astounding 50% increase in their literacy and math skills!

Without this program, those two would have started Kindergarten that same way they started KidsBridge, but the consequences could have been further reaching. The schools’ classrooms have more students,  can be more overwhelming, and wouldn’t have allowed for individualized attention.

Instead, those two happy children, and  many others attending this year’s KidsBridge are supported and engaged in their academics – they are smiling, playing, and ready to learn just the way children should be.

Simple Questions to Increase Reading Comprehension

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Helping a child develop reading skills is fun – but can be hard! Many students struggle with reading comprehension, which simply means understanding what you read; this may look like the student being unable to retell a story, or answer questions about what happened in the story (about characters, timeline, settting, plot, etc.). As a tutor or parent, asking questions before, during and after reading can drastically improve comprehension, but coming up with questions on the spot can be difficult!

Below is a list of possible questions you can ask during your student’s/child’s reading. They’re not intended to be used all at once, but throughout reading sessions.

Before You Read

Using pictures for discussion before reading and making guesses using prior knowledge is VERY IMPORTANT!

  • Can you look at the pictures and predict what you think will happen in this book?
  • What makes you think that?
  • What characters do you think might be in our story?
  • Do you think there will be a problem in this story? Why or why not?
  • Does the topic/story relate to you or your family? How?

During Reading

  • What do you think will happen next?
  • What can you tell me about the story so far?
  • Can you predict how the story will end?
  • Why do you think the character did __________?
  • What would you have done if you were the character?
  • How would you have felt if you were the character? (use different characters)
  • As I read ________________, it made me picture _______ in my head. What pictures do you see in your head?
  • As you read, what are you wondering about?
  • Can you say what you just read in your own words?

After Reading

  • Can you remember the title?
  • In your opinion, was it a good title for this book? Why or why not?
  • Were your predictions about the story correct?
  • If there was a problem, did it get solved?
  • What happened because of the problem?
  • Why do you think the author wrote this book?
  • What is the most important point the author is trying to make in his writing?
  • What was your favorite part of the story?
  • If you could change one thing in the story, what would it be?
  • Can you retell the story in order?
  • If you were ____________, how would you have felt?
  • What is the most interesting situation in the story?
  • Is there a character in the story like you? How are you alike?
  • Why did you like/dislike this book?

Easy Ways to Donate

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Here’s two easy ways to contribute towards Inspiring Minds, just through shopping you’re doing!

First, do you, your family, or your friends shop at Eastside Marketplace? Your receipts can be donated to Inspiring Minds and contribute toward fundraising for our programs and events! Please mail or drop off your Eastside Marketplace receipts to our office at 763 Westminster St, Providence RI 02903 – helping the students of Providence has never been easier!

Secondly, by doing your normal Amazon shopping through the Inspiring Minds Amazon Smile page, a portion of what you spend will be automatically donated to our organization at no cost to you!

All you have to do is designate the organization you want to donate to as Inspiring Minds, and then remember to go to Amazon Smile each time you shop!

The Scoop: KidsBridge 2015

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KidsBridge 2015 is almost here!
We welcome you to join our volunteers, our staff, and 150 incoming kindergartners for a 4 week summer program called KidsBridge, a free K-readiness program for children who are registered to begin school in the fall. (Scroll to the bottom of the post to find out why KidsBridge is necessary in Providence.) This year the program will be held at four different public elementary schools in Providence: Asa Messer, Harry Kizirian, Carl G Lauro, and Alan Shawn Feinstein at Broad Street. Spanish fluency is not necessary, though please share this information with anyone you know who is bilingual and would be interested!
July 20th – August 14th
Monday – Thursday
8am – 1pm

Become a KidsBridge volunteer and you could expect:

  • To volunteer at least one full day a week from 8am to 1pm(Can’t volunteer that often? Scroll down to view other opportunities!)
  • To be at the same school, in the same classroom, for the entirety of the program, thus building enriching relationships with the students in that room
  • To work with groups of 2-3 students at a time, helping with basic reading, writing and math skills
  • To serve as a strong role-model to Pre-K students, helping them recognize the importance of classroom manners and getting along well with others
  • To have multiple students designate you as their favorite andwant you to be proud of them!
Returning KidsBridge Volunteers:  You are not required to attend a training session, though you are welcome and encouraged to see our new material this year! 
Please call us to update your information.
KidsBridge 
Volunteer Training Dates
Sign up now!
We have a limited number of spaces at each
training so you must call ahead to reserve
your spot!

 Mon June 85pm

Tue  June 910:30am

Wed June 172pm

Sat  June 2010:30am

Thurs  June 2511:30am

Tues  July 72pm

Wed July 155pm

– Email –
inspire@
inspiringmindsri.org
– or Call –
Ext. 23
cantvolunteerCan’t volunteer consistently one day a week?

We also need volunteers to help with:

  •  Training New Volunteers
    Do you have strong public speaking skills, and enjoy teaching others new information? We need volunteers who can learn from our team and assist as we train new volunteers for the program!
  • Field trips
    Chaperon students as they explore the Providence Children’s Museum!
  • Assessing Student Knowledge
    Students in KidsBridge complete pre and post tests so that their growth in the program can be measured. We need extra manpower the first and last weeks of the program to ensure that all students are assessed in a timely manner! Training provided.
  • KidsBridge Graduation
    We need help with organizing students, greeting parents, hanging signs, etc. Graduation will be on August 13th.

    Don’t see an option here that fits you?
    Give us a call to discuss more options!

whyWhy is KidsBridge Necessary?

As most of our volunteers already know, many of Providence’s public school children live near or below the poverty line. Children in low-income families face distinctive challenges that often leave them ill-prepared for school. Additionally, many of our students are just learning English as a second language, which puts them at an even greater risk to start out school behind their English-speaking peers.

Research has shown that by the time children reach the age of four, those from low-income homes will have heard approximately 30 million fewer words than children from more affluent backgrounds. As a result, only one out of three kindergarten registrants in Providence enters the classroom at the appropriate literacy benchmark.

KidsBridge attempts to address these inequities by accelerating student learning in reading, writing, math, and social skills!

Volunteer Moments

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We asked our volunteers to tell us the most inspiring moment they had while tutoring last semester and were touched by all the heartwarming responses. Here are some of our favorites 🙂

“Seeing the smiles on the student’s faces when I walk in the classroom, and when a girl asked me to stay the whole year.”

Kayla Fleurant


“When my students feel confident enough to raise their hand to answer the question, and to know that they did the work on their own. I also love when they ask me when I will be back next, because that makes me think that they enjoy my presence and I am making a difference.” 

Lia D’Amato


“It is always rewarding when a student finally understands a concept and you can see everything sort of “click” in their heads, like the metaphorical light bulb has been turned on, and everything makes sense. I also saw one of my students from two years ago during dismissal, and she told me that she remembered me. Knowing that I was able to make such an impact on a little girl that I only saw for a few minutes each week two years ago was so special.”

Emily Cameron


“When the students that I tutor express to me how much I’ve helped them.”

Brittany St. Pierre


“When I was teaching a young boy the difference between upper and lower case letters, and when he understood and had the biggest smile on his face.”

Savanah Cofone


“I will do anything I can do to help the day be special for the children. I am captured by their enthusiasm and their happiness at achievement. It is infectious.”

Judith Donnelly

National Volunteer Week: Cristian Cepeda

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Cristian Cepeda can actually recall the first day he ever came to Inspiring Minds – February 13, 2014 – because it was the date of a chess tournament held here in the Tech Center. After speaking that day with Carlos Lopez, our Youth Center Assistant, Cristian eventually decided to return to the Tech Center, eventually becoming a regular in-office volunteer!

We are lucky to be joined almost every day by Cristian, and he provides valuable assistance to students and staff alike – from tutoring, to helping make sure the Tech Center runs smoothly, to assisting with office mailings, Cristian can be found doing a little bit of everything here at Inspiring Minds!

He is also heavily involved in Classical High School’s chess club and can regularly be found helping there during chess season; Cristian says that he believes practicing and playing chess helps develop one’s attention, discipline, memory, logic, and problem-solving (among many other skills), and he sees students involved in the chess club build these skills while involved in the club.

Cristian credits a lot of his inspiration to volunteer to his own mentor in high-school, whom he saw often in chess club and homeroom and who helped him be able to participate in additional chess activities outside of school. After acknowledging the impact this teacher had on him, Cristian adds, “I kind of want to do that for everyone else.”

We’re floored to have such an inspiring, kind, and helpful individual volunteer in our office with us. Join our team as we thank him for all he does for Providence students!

National Volunteer Week: Erin Curtin and Megan Farrell

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Erin Curtin and Megan Farrell have been volunteering with us as literacy development tutors for a year and a half at Kennedy Elementary School! Both young women attend Providence College with dreams of becoming teachers one day, and co-founded the Providence College Education Club in order to connect PC students with opportunities to volunteer in education. When asked how she got involved in volunteering initially, Erin adds “that as students with the privilege of going to college, it is our duty to give back.” Amazingly, the club has grown from only the two founding members to over 31 volunteers this semester!

As education majors at PC, volunteering has helped both Erin and Megan develop their skills as future teachers, and both feel that volunteering at the school is the highlight of their weeks! Though it can be easy to show up at her school on Monday mornings in a bad mood, Megan says that the students “always have a way of brightening my day” and that it’s easy to leave happy “because you can feel that you made a difference.”

Both Erin and Megan agree – one of the most valuable things they can give to the students in their classrooms is their attention. From students who are far behind in the curriculum to those who need motivation and guidance to succeed, having a volunteer in a classroom makes a world of difference!

We are so inspired by these two volunteers – not only by what they give individually as volunteers to our community, but also for their drive and dedication in creating the Education Club and coordinating its growth and partnership with Inspiring Minds!